Posts

Did President Trump Violate Federal Law With His Alabama Rant?

I wrote yesterday about the racial, social and football implications of Trump’s rant in the history and home of George Wallace.

But a new, and by all appearances excellent, commenter on that post noted this:

“It occurs to me that his tweets are at least arguably in violation of 18 U.S. Code § 227. That section prohibits the POTUS (among others), from “attempting to influence or interfere” in a private company’s labor matter, to urge a “political” firing. This is especially true where the basis for the POTUS’s urging of the firing of such a private company employee (union covered, collective bargaining agreement governed) — is (as here) centered on protected political first amendment expression.”

So, is that right? Well, it is a LOT closer call than most would dismissively think. Let’s look at the language of the relevant statute, 18 USC §277:

18 U.S. Code § 227 – Wrongfully influencing a private entity’s employment decisions by a Member of Congress or an officer or employee of the legislative or executive branch:

(a) Whoever, being a covered government person, with the intent to influence, solely on the basis of partisan political affiliation, an employment decision or employment practice of any private entity—
(1) takes or withholds, or offers or threatens to take or withhold, an official act, or
(2) influences, or offers or threatens to influence, the official act of another,
shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than 15 years, or both, and may be disqualified from holding any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.
(b) In this section, the term “covered government person” means—
(1) a Senator or Representative in, or a Delegate or Resident Commissioner to, the Congress;
(2) an employee of either House of Congress; or
(3) the President, Vice President, an employee of the United States Postal Service or the Postal Regulatory Commission, or any other executive branch employee (as such term is defined under section 2105 of title 5, United States Code).

Read the statute. It is a lot closer call than you think. Will Trump’s own Department of Justice pursue this? No, no chance, nor probably should it be. Is it a viable question, and one that ought be discussed in the public and media, yes, absolutely.

As sports law “experts” would say, let’s break it down. There are elements to a crime. Trump is unequivocally a “covered person” within the ambit of the statute. Also unequivocal is the fact that his words in Alabama were meant to influence “an employment decision or employment practice of any private entity”, in this case, the National Football League.

The problem lies in section (a)(1) of the relevant statute, which requires:

takes or withholds, or offers or threatens to take or withhold, an official act

It is easy to see and admit that Trump would do just that in a heartbeat. But Trump did not do that per se in his Alabama speech.

No. That element cannot be met by Donald J. Trump’s Alabama Song of hate. So, no, there is no exposure to 18 USC §227.

It is a great thought and question though.

And it is a perfect example of the precipice of racism, bigotry and ignorance on which the political discussion in the United States, and our Article II Executive Branch, courtesy of President Trump, nows perilously treads nearly every day.

The events and actions in and from the NFL today, tomorrow, and in the next few weeks pale in comparison. They are a symbol and a voice. But it is so much more and bigger than that.

Beyond Deflategate: The NFL Season Begins

Hi there! How ya doing! Because I have been oppressed with this Tom Brady porn bullshit from blog partner and sister, that Wheel person. Very ugly and unnecessary. But I am going to let it stand for all of posterity, not to mention both of our posteriors. Still, you have to wonder when enough is enough (like when she hijacked my last post).

I used to love her, but….

So, enough about yer local riff raff, and about #Deflategate (which was bullshit from the inception) let’s get on to the game at hand. That would be the Patriots versus the Steelers.

Yes, Brady has a giant chip on his shoulder. Yes the Pats are defending Superbowl champs and Big Ben and the Steelers are not. Nevertheless, this is one hell of a season opening game. In fact, it is pretty hard to imagine a better one under the circumstances. Say what you will about how any got there, there are only a precious few at the top of all time winners in the Super Bowl era. They include the Steelers and Pats. And, yes, the Steelers, for all the Pats glory in the last 15 years, are still winning that overall matchup. The 49ers, Packers, Cowboys and Gents are totally in there, but the more recent elite are pretty clear.

So, here we are. Steelers have Big Ben and….what? Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown are as good a duo as you can get. But without Bell, who is suspended, in the backfield, that is going to place some extra pressure on the Steelers offense. A face Bill Belichick undoubtedly knows. By the same token, the Pats pass defense rests on a backfield without either Darrell Revis of Brandon Browner. Pretty easy to see Malcomb Butler continuing to become a stud above and beyond his one play Super Bowl XLIX heroics, but similarly hard to see there not being some early hiccups in that road. Would not want to be Butler on Antonio Brown tonight.

But will DeAngelo Williams, who will sub for Bell and Cody Wallace, who is subbing for center Maurkice Pouncey, be able to pick up the slack? Yes, I think so, but not nearly enough.

That said, the Patriots are without LeGarrette Blount, due to a one game suspension. I think that Dion Lewis (who is potentially breakout star) and Travaris Cadet will come out of nowhere to semi-carry the load. So, both sides have some issue at running back, but, hopefully, capable backups. I’d give a slight edge to the Pats, but by a VERY slight margin.

We all know the QB’s on these two respective teams. They are both great. Hard to see an edge here other than the psychological harden that Brady may have. But I am not putting that much in that, Ben will come to play too.

Comes down to defense. Call me crazy, and probably you should for this, but I think the Pats have the edge on the new, dick LeBeau-less, and untested, Steeler’s defense. Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark ain’t walking through that tunnel. Especially so with the questions in the Pittsburgh offensive line. If there is a win here, that, and a pissed off Brady, are where I see it. And that is where I see it, the Steelers are good, but the Brady’s come out roaring and winning tonight. don’t make me regret this Deflators!

So, there you have it. #Deflategate is still a legal pile of dubious garbage manufactured, as is now even more clear, by an arbitrary and capricious, if not arrogantly craven, Roger Goddell and the NFL. We shall deal with that more later. For now, trash it up and let loose the dogs of football war.

And that is that. On top is an incredible Taiwanese animation on the latest ESPN slanted bunk trying to give cover to the NFL for #Deflategate. It’s really awesome. Lower is one of my newest favorite bands, this one from down under, specifically Perth, Boom! Bap! Pow! Yeah, that is their name, and they are killer.

The real football season is upon us folks, rip this joint.

The Deflategate Decision: Brady Has Been Freed!

Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 11.32.25 AMemptywheel sez: We interrupt this in depth legal discussion to point out that the WOLVEREENIES ARE BACK!!

 

Better still, they’ve got unbeatable juju going into tonight’s game against Utah. That’s because (unreported among all the other less important Deflategate legalisms) the Wolvereenies have ALREADY worked together to score today.

 

That’s right.

You see, Jay Feely and Tommy Brady combined to score a point in Judge Berman’s decision today. On Monday, former UM kicker Jay Feely ’99 testified on behalf of former UM QB Tom Brady ’00 (just like me!!!). Feely explained about how when the Jets got busted for fucking with their balls in 2009 — in a game against Division rivals the Pats, against Tom Brady — he, the kicker who allegedly benefitted from the improperly doctored balls, faced no punishment.

If you’re not going to punish Jay Feely, Judge Berman suggested, you can’t punish Tommy Brady. At least, you can’t expect Tommy to think he’ll get punished, because his college buddy didn’t in the equivalent situation.

Anyway this is surely a great omen for the Wolverines and their new savior Jim Harbaugh.

So go Blue!


Deflated BallWell, at long last love, the #Deflategate decision from Judge Richard Berman in SDNY is in, and the big winner is Tom Brady.

The 40 page full decision is here

One key line in the decision on the general right of the court to set aside an arbitration is:

“The deference due an arbitrator does not extend so far as to require a district court to countenance, much less confirm, an award obtained without the requisites of fairness or due process” (citing Kaplan v. Alfred Dunhill of London, Inc.)

Boom.

I previously did a very partial background on the case, and how it germinated from blatantly false information (still uncorrected and/or withdrawn) from Chris Mortenson and ESPN. The bottom line is the NFL’s position was that the Commissioner, Goodell, simply has the power to do whatever he wants under Article 46 of the NFL/NFLPA collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

The Players Association, on behalf of Tom Brady, makes four core arguments in seeking to vacate Goodell’s arbitration decision:

1) There was not actual notice to Brady of prohibited conduct and that he could be suspended for it (See here for a further description)

2) That there were not adequate and reliable standards for testing game balls, and therefore punishment based on the same is unreasonable

3) That Goodell was a blatantly partial arbitrator, and

4) That the arbitration process lacked fundamental fairness in that key witness testimony and evidence was unreasonably denied to Brady and the NFLPA (See here for a further explanation).

Frankly, Brady is arguably entitled to a decision in his favor on all four. What Berman did is, primarily, rely on the first ground, notice with a backup of ground four, lack of fairness from denial of the Pash testimony and investigative notes.

CN_SebJWIAUg8iYThe critical language from the decision is:

The Award is premised upon several significant legal deficiencies, including (A) inadequate notice to Brady of both his potential discipline (four- game suspension) and his alleged misconduct; (B) denial of the opportunity for Brady to examine one of two lead investigators, namely NFL Executive Vice President and General Counsel Jeff Pash; and (C) denial of equal access to investigative files, including witness interview notes.

So, there you have it, please feel free to unpack this further in comments. This is a momentous decision, not just for Brady and the NFL, but, as I explained in my earlier post, for collectively bargained labor in general. There is a lot of importance here to much more than Tom Brady. Though Brady is certainly the big winner today.

Brady is free! For now anyway, it is nearly a certainty that the NFL will appeal to the 2nd Circuit and we will go through this all again.

ESPN Is Gutless, Chris Mortenson Has Tiny Deflated Balls and Other Deflategate Trash Talk

Hi there! Been a while, hope this account still works and State Secrets or something has not overcome due process on this here blog.

So, here we are in the waning days of summer. I would have written more about the Formula One Circus but, frankly, it has mostly bored the heck out of me this year. The, still, best driver in F1 is stuck in a crappy underperforming McLaren and has to drive his ass off and hope for attrition to even score a point. That would be Fernando Alonso if you haven’t guessed. While lesser drivers, with far better machinery, you know, those like the two insolent crybabies at Mercedes, have such superior equipment that they wrongfully think they are kings. It is all enough to make an old school fan like me puke. Well, enough about the circus, let’s get to the real meat and potatoes of this blog’s sports coverage, the NFL.

As you may have heard, there is a little kerfuffle called #Deflategate that has been going on since before the last SuperBowl. On one side, we have an arrogant all powerful giant human jackass (no, not Dick Cheney this time) named Roger Goodell, and on the other, we have the epitome of bright and light, the All American Hero, and lover of supermodels, Tom Brady. If you think this is not a fair fight, and Brady is the clear winner, advance and collect your winnings.

Okay, back to Chris Mortensen’s apparently shriveled journalistic balls. Let me be clear, this is just opinion (even if putatively well founded opinion), but what kind of “balls” does a man who is spoon fed lying ass bullshit by “NFL Sources” in the form of a tweet that said:

The NFL found 11 of the Patriots’ 12 game balls for Sunday’s 45-7 AFC Championship Game win over the Indianapolis Colts were under-inflated by two pounds per square inch each, league sources told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen on Tuesday.

Obviously, as the actual testing (not to mention the late great “Wells’ Report) confirmed, that was an outright giant flaming LIE. Call it what it is, it was not a minor discrepancy, it was an outright flaming lie. A lie that led directly to the public outcry that begat what we now know as the multi-million dollar boondoggle bullshit “#Deflategate”.

Peter King (no, not the militant chickenhawk moron from Long Island, the other one from Sports Illustrated) was fed the same blatant inflammatory lie by what appear to be NFL officials, but King had the balls, and intellectual integrity, to apologize.

Did Chris Mortensen or THE WORLDWIDE LEADER, ESPN, have the intellectual and moral integrity to apologize? No, of course the craven bastards did not. In fact, Mortensen silently deleted his original tweet. What a gutless and tiny balled coward. And ESPN has proved itself to be an oppressive behemoth that is willing to put itself, and its allegiance to the NFL, above their journalistic ethics. How pathetic.

That blatantly false report germinated the entire waste of time that is now #Deflategate. Seriously, without Mortensen’s and ESPN’s relentlessly trumped up and featured false report, tagged on by King and SI, there would simply never have been #Deflategate. But it was clearly something the NFL wanted pushed, and they got their want, one way or another. Oh, by the way, is there further evidence that ESPN and Chris Mortensen may be dishonest news sources without a shred of credibility? Yes, yes there is. Mortensen reported that the Kraft family and Patriots had apologized to him. Was that true? No, according to the Krafts on behalf of the Patriots, that was blatantly false.

Here is the thing: #Deflategate is a house of cards built on a pile of dung. If you have an iota of concern for fundamental fairness and due process, you ought be offended – even if this is only a civil labor law mess involving millionaires against billionaires. It all matters, and the labor law principles in play here are beyond critical to all union workers and collective bargaining agreements, not just those of rich athletes. So, yeah, don’t kid yourself, this matters. A lot. If Tom Freaking Brady cannot get fundamental fairness and due process on a collectively bargained agreement, how the hell do you think a UAW, Teamster, teacher, or any other union member will? If you haven’t noticed, labor in this country is under direct attack. Don’t be the guy (or girl!) that aids that attack just because this iteration of the conflict involves Tom Brady and/or rich athletes. This matters, both in general as to all workers under labor agreements, and to your hometown sports teams and players too.

So, there you have Chris Mortensen and his tiny disingenuous balls, but what about some overall facts and law on #Deflategate? Got you kind of covered. And this is especially timely since the last big actual live court day is coming up on Monday, August 31st. So, here we go with some various background resources for you. If you are interested, please read them, you will be better informed. If not, that is cool too, but understand there are very good reasons I take the stances I have on #Deflategate. Off we go!

Soooo….where to start? How about a prediction, you want a prediction?? Sorry, don’t have one. BUT, I will say this, I have read most of the transcripts and filings, and I do not subscribe to the thought that Judge Richard Berman’s clearly antagonistic position to the NFL/Goodell side is all posturing trying to force a settlement. Is there some of that going on? Trust me, almost certainly. By the same token, by my experience, and I have a little, there is simply no way Berman is being as consistently pointed and dubious of one side, the NFL/Goodell, as he has been without being convinced their argument is lame. Yes, judges often play “devil’s advocate”, but what Berman has engaged in strikes me as well beyond that.

So, while I won’t make a prediction, the Brady/NFLPA side must feel pretty positive about how it has gone so far. I am understating that a little.

So, on what grounds do I think Brady and the NFLPA may win on? Two grounds – 1) Notice and 2) Process denial regarding evidence and witnesses by the NFL, to wit, Jeff Pash and related evidence.

First off, the “Notice” argument. A new net friend I have met in this process, but one I greatly respect, Dan Werly, has summarized “Notice” quite well here.

Then there is the “Pash preclusion”. Jeff Pash is the General Counsel to the NFL. He is also its Executive Vice President. Those are not necessarily copascetic if a corporate entity wants to maintain even the reduced semblance of “attorney/client privilege” of having a “corporate counsel”. Seriously, this kind of privilege comes close to vapor when you commingle your attorney with corporate leadership. But that is exactly what the NFL has done here, and much more. And that is peanuts compared to the fact that the NFL made Pash the effective, really de facto, co-independent “investigator” (they even stated it in a press release) along with Ted Wells and then gave Pash editorial control over the so called “Independent Wells Report”. then Goodell refused to make Pash available for testimony, stating that he was irrelevant and privileged.

Ooops, did the arrogant Goodell and the NFL bugger their own ruse beyond belief as to Pash? Yes, and it is crystal clear. Even Judge Berman was incredulous.

pic-5

Then, later…

pic-6

Yes, arbitration decisions are given “great deference” by courts, and generally are not disturbed. But they can be when they present genuine issues of fairness and partiality. #Deflategate may be a silly case to most of the lay public, but these are serious and critical issues in labor law, and if the exacerbated issues in the Brady case cannot be addressed by a court, then pretty much no labor arbitration can ever be. For a far more detailed explication of the Pash problem, see this outstanding piece by Ian Gunn.

I invent the wheel only when I need to (and mostly when clients pay me to); I try to not do so when it has already been done by worthy people before me. Dan Werly, Dan Wallach, Michael McCann, Brian Holland, Alan Milstein, Raffi Melkonian and Ian Gunn are folks that did the hard lifting while I was, mostly, away frolicking at the beach in La Jolla when the most critical filings came out. All fantastic people that I came to know because of Roger Goodell’s #Deflategate folly. Hat’s off to them, as well as Stephanie Stradley with some fantastic early scene setting. These are all serious people that you should follow, not just for #Deflategate, but for any sports related law and thought. I think all, including me, feel Brady and the Players Association have the far better hand, in both posture and presentation, than Goodell and the NFL. Really, it is not even close, though there is no telling what Berman will do in the end. By this time next week, we will know.

Welp, I may have focused on #Deflategate more than I intended. Or not. This post was meant as an acerbic discussion point, not a full on explication, which would have consumed thousands of additional words. F1, and sports in general have just been boring lately, as you can tell by how often I have bothered to write about them. But the legal machinations in #Deflategate have been fascinating, at least to me. The All American boy Brady, the Boris Badanov evil Goodell, the flamboyant crusading Player’s Association lawyer Jeffrey Kessler, the Snidely Whiplash Ted Wells to the calm but annoyed judge Richard Berman. The characters are all there.

So, that’s it. Rock on lug nuts. Trash talk like you are Michael Jordan. Do it up. But, if you don’t agree with my #Deflategate thoughts, you can send some Dead Flowers. By the US Mail. And don’t forget the roses…

Emptywheel’s Super Bowl XLIX Trash Talk

Welp, here we are for our last regularly scheduled Trash Talk for the football season. It may be the biggest game of the year, but it is always a tad melancholy because it means no more football. On that note, off we go.

Super Bowl XLIX is right here in the Phoenix Valley of the Sun. Except that it has not been that sunny; in fact, the end of the week has been nothing but rain, starting Thursday and through all day Friday, and it is overcast again this morning as I write. The temperature has been quite moderate and comfortable, but the overcast and rain a real downer. Curiously, none of the fans I have run into, and there are a lot of those, seem to mind in the least; but as a local, I sure hoped for better. That said, all the parties and festivities seem to have gone off just fine, and of course the gorgeous VIP crowd, between all the limos and controlled indoor settings, probably never noticed. In short, so far, so good, despite the inclement weather. I have also had great fun seeing all the Squawkers in their vaunted “12th Man” shirts. To a tee, so to speak, I see them and say “Love yer Number 12 Tom Brady Jersey!”. So far, I have not been punched yet, but there is still time.

There are so many different things to do if you are here and a fan, and it is spread out over the valley. There was the NFL Experience set up at the Phoenix Convention Center Downtown, the seemingly continuously running Super Bowl street party in and around downtown central square, and also the simply idiotic looking huge “Bud Light House of Whatever”, that appeared designed for hollow 20 something twits. 10-12 miles northwest, in Glendale, by the actual University of Phoenix Cardinals stadium, were more stages and whatnot sponsored primarily by DirecTV. I know some of the pretty people were bussed out there, and promptly bussed right out of there as soon as they could. Cause no one with any shred of common sense parties in freaking Glendale when you could be doing it in Scottsdale. Come on man. That is just the way it is, and the way it has always been. And it will always be that way, cause Glendale is a bag of Chalie Brown’s rocks on Halloween. People with money and the appropriate je ne sais quoi wouldn’t be caught dead hanging in Glendale, and that won’t be changing anytime soon.

The fact that the game is in Glendale, but all the real playahs and money somewhere else actually has some real implications locally. Yes, it is what it is, but Glendale has a problem as a result. You see, Glendale is its own municipality; it is not Phoenix, and it sure as hell is not Scottsdale or Tempe. It has its own tax and spending obligations, and it has fucked it up royally, as my friend, and the always excellent, Travis Waldron of Think Progress details:

In a world in which American cities have handed over billions of dollars in public money to finance sports arenas and stadiums, there is perhaps one city that stands above the rest as a warning for what can go wrong when they do so. It just so happens that place is Glendale, Ariz., which will host Super Bowl XLIX this Sunday.

Glendale has spent liberally on sports in the past decade and a half, luring professional hockey, football, and spring training baseball with millions of dollars of its own money and plenty of help from the state. Sunday will mark the second time it has hosted the Super Bowl, and the game’s biggest proponents are, in typical fashion, making the argument that helped sell all of this sporting infrastructure that brought teams and events to Glendale in the first place: it will be a boon for the local economy.
….
The problem is that the Super Bowl almost certainly won’t generate $500 million in economic benefits for Arizona. Economic research has shown that for a variety of reasons — among them: a failure to account for costs, money that leaks out of the local economy, and money that would have been spent anyway or, in the absence of such an event, elsewhere in the city — Super Bowls and other mega-events and the publicly-funded stadiums built to host them virtually never have such an effect. They may provide minimal gains, and sometimes losses, to host cities, but they’re never major shots in the arm. Cities that believe otherwise, about stadiums or the events themselves, run the risk of major trouble.

Travis is right, the “economic stimulus” from major events like Super Bowls, NCAA National Championship games, in both football and basketball (both of which are here in the immediate future), are just never what they are cracked up to be when you factor in the hard costs to host cities. But, it goes a little further than even Travis lets on when the hard costs of the game itself, and ridiculous security therefore, are being paid by a, frankly, minor municipality like Glendale and the real big bucks are being spent in Scottsdale/Paradise Valley and Phoenix. And that, my friends, is exactly what is going on here.

And, then, there is Scottsdale/Paradise Valley. That is where the real players and action are. I live, literally, on the intersection of East Phoenix/Arcadia, Scottsdale and Paradise Valley. Even with an old rotator cuff, I can throw a rock and hit all of them. So, I went to all the glitzy parties and can tell you about them, right? Nope. For one thing, I just don’t care as much anymore, and certainly not enough to work it to get to them. But, secondly, the big money, and exclusivity, is so pervasive now that it is really hard, much more so than it once was, whether for Super Bowl XXX or even XLII.

I didn’t miss the Playboy, Victoria’s Secret or Jerry Jones parties in either of those, but trying to get into the equivalent this year was insane, and I am not going to pay to do so. You think bmaz is gonna pay $350 to go to a Scottsdale bar to hang with lowlife B-level celebs like Drake, Brody Jenner and some idiot, I never in my life heard about, named “William Lifestyle”? Uh, no. I wouldn’t pay a lousy buck to see that trashy shit like that. So, save for a one day pass I got into the ESPN live set gig at Scottsdale Fashion Square, about two miles down the road, I just didn’t partake in the festivities. (Couple pictures from that, here, here and here; featuring mostly my new friend, and totally awesome guy, Tom Jackson) Your Phoenix based Roving Reporter has failed you. Sorry about that. And, no, I won’t be going to the game either. Tickets are, in even the cheapest markets, going for $7,500 – $10,000 for any seat, and WAY more for a reasonable seat, to the game. If I had tickets, I would sell them and buy a new car, or a Cessna, or something.

Alright, let us get to the only thing that matters in a game between the two best teams in football. Deflategate. Roger Goodell was his normal sack of salted dicks self in his press conference here. What a bullshit joke. Goodell is an embarrassment. He and the NFL have ignorantly, stupidly, and against the interests of the league and the Super Bowl, weakly and cravenly not just allowed, but actively encouraged, the ginning up of the non-story of Deflategate into something that has consumed the oxygen of the Super Bowl. The only thing that matters to tight ass billionaire owner driven cracker like Roger Goodell is the money. First he looks at the purse. Players health, and fans’ desires are not even really on the list.

If that is not enough incompetence to get Goodell fired, on the heels of the ignorant and incompetent handling of the Ray Rice situation, I guess there is no such thing as incompetence to the beyond hubristic and arrogant NFL owners. As a fan, fuck that shit. Goodell and the vaunted “NFL Shield” are craven, self serving, pathetic reactionaries worried far more about covering their gravy train asses than being positive, proactive, forces for good in society. Oh, and by the way, their “evidence” and “investigation” is, once, as always, total shit. So far, the NFL has a an equipment manager that had the misfortune of taking a piss in a bathroom and a bunch of physics that even all the best scientists now admit actually could support the Patriots. What a load of sensationalistic crap. Without more (which Goodell and his crying ass stooge Ted Wells may well try to falsely gin up, same as the asinine “Mueller Report”), Bob Kraft, Tom Brady and BillBel are indeed owed an apology. As Bill Simmons said in a couple of tweets on Twitter:

The NFL is searching for a person of interest who dressed like a referee and didn’t write down the measurements of 12 footballs. We spent 3 days talking about a ball boy taking a piss. Meanwhile Walt Anderson was approving footballs with his gut feelings. What a farce.

Alright. As to the game. Yeah, sorry, there are no more cheap ass platitudes on the elusiveness and brains of Russell Wilson, the strength of the Squawks defense, the greatness of Brady and the brilliance of BillBel’s game scheming. It is all out there, but I am done with that tripe, cause at this point it is all bullshit. These are two different and both wonderfully constructed and coached teams. One will win, and one won’t. We’ll see.

Music today, at the top, is INXS. Irrespective of the team you support, sometimes you kick, and sometimes you get kicked (as lifelong Packers fan, trust me). Also, the Brady’s Balls AC/DC thing is really well done. Don’t miss the J. Geils I added late, cause it is everything. Lastly, I especially love the Favre and Carve spot (one of several related Wix spots), though, truth be told, Headmistress, and my boss, Ms. Wheel made me do it! So, thanks to one and all for a great football season. We will see you again when the start of the F1 Circus begins and/or the force moves us. You are, all, truly and always, the greatest.

Let’s rock this joint lug nuts! Gronk on bitchezz!!

Yes, Ray Rice’s Diversion Adjudication Was Appropriate

JusticePicThe popular meme has been that Ray Rice got some kind of miraculous plea deal to diversion (pre-trial intervention, or “PTI”, in New Jersey parlance) and that NOBODY in his situation ever gets the deal he did.

Is that true? No. Not at all. Kevin Drum wrote a few days ago at Mother Jones on this subject:

First, although Ray Rice’s assault of Janay Palmer was horrible, any sense of justice—no matter the crime—has to take into account both context and the relative severity of the offense. And Ray Rice is not, by miles, the worst kind of domestic offender. He did not use a weapon. He is not a serial abuser. He did not terrorize his fiancée (now wife). He did not threaten her if she reported what happened. He has no past record of violence of any kind. He has no past police record. He is, by all accounts, a genuinely caring person who works tirelessly on behalf of his community. He’s a guy who made one momentary mistake in a fit of anger, and he’s demonstrated honest remorse about what he did.

In other words, his case is far from being a failure of the criminal justice system. Press reports to the contrary, when Rice was admitted to a diversionary program instead of being tossed in jail, he wasn’t getting special treatment. He was, in fact, almost a poster child for the kind of person these programs were designed for. The only special treatment he got was having a good lawyer who could press his cause competently, and that’s treatment that every upper-income person in this country gets. The American criminal justice system is plainly light years from perfect (see Brown, Michael, and many other incidents in Ferguson and beyond), but it actually worked tolerably well in this case.

Mr. Drum is absolutely correct, Ray Rice was quite appropriate for the diversion program he was ultimately offered and accepted into by Atlantic County Superior Court.

In fact, that is exactly the deal I would hope, and expect, to get for any similarly situated client in Rice’s position. It is also notable the matter was originally charged as a misdemeanor assault in a municipal court, which is how this would normally be charged as there was no serious physical injury. Rice would have gotten diversion there too and, indeed, that was the deal his lawyer, Michael Diamondstein, had negotiated with the municipal prosecutors before the county attorney snatched jurisdiction away and obtained a felony indictment. Despite the brutality depicted by the video, this is precisely the type of conduct that underlies most every domestic violence physical assault (seriously, what do people think it looks like in real life?) and it is almost always charged as a simple misdemeanor assault.

Janay Palmer Rice clearly did not receive a “serious physical injury” level of injury under the applicable New Jersey definition in NJ Rev Stat § 2C:11-1(b) and a small period of grogginess/unconsciousness is not considered, by itself, as meeting the threshold. Now, to be fair, New Jersey has two levels of injury that can lead to a felony charge, the aforementioned “serious physical injury”, and the lower “significant physical injury”, pursuant to NJ Rev Stat § 2C:11-1(d) that Rice was charged under, and which is a far less serious charge, even though still nominally a felony under New Jersey classification.

The injury to Janay Palmer (Rice) did fall within the lower “significant physical injury” threshold under New Jersey’s criminal statutes because of the momentary apparent lapse of consciousness. So, under the New Jersey statute, while the felony, as opposed to simple misdemeanor, charge may have not been the norm for such a fact set, it was certainly minimally factually supportable. That said, most all similar cases would still be charged as simple assault, as indeed, as stated above, Rice initially was. The New Jersey assault statute, with its different iterations of offenses, and offense levels, is here.

With that description of the nature and structure of assault in New Jersey out of the way, there is something else that must be addressed: I am absolutely convinced that the Read more

Week Four Trash Talk

Not nearly as much criminal docket news this week, but one thing is notable. The NFL has started its pushback on the AP story of the “law enforcement official” who sent the full elevator video to the league now that AP has supplemented its original report to reflect that the law enforcement official sent the tape addressed to Jeff Miller, the head of the NFL Security Office in New York.

This is a sizable problem for the league. So now the NFL is shopping, through its oh so subservient mouthpiece ESPN, the posture that the tape story is all a lie:

“Our office has found absolutely no evidence to support the claim of the anonymous ‘law enforcement source’ that he sent a video to the NFL office or that he received a telephone call to his ‘disposable cell phone’ from an unidentified female using an NFL line,” the league said.

This is simply pathetic. As if they had not already engaged in enough mendacity and duplicity over their handling of the Rice case, now they are doubling down. Their defense to the tape allegations is it is all a lie. That the AP got hoaxed on their huge story. The AP, who knows exactly the full identity of their source, his law enforcement status, and presumably has confirmed details. The NFL is the truth teller and everyone else, from Ray and Janay Rice, to Ozzie Newsome, to casino security, to the cops, to the venerable AP…they all are lying. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Roger Goodell and the NFL grow exponentially more pathetic with each passing day.

After Thursday night’s debacle here at Sun Devil Stadium, it is hard to talk about football at all. Very ugly. A possible upset special might be Stanford at Washington. Tough conference game and the Huskies are improved under Chris Peterson. The national interest seems to be on FSU and Heisman criminal Winston at NC State. Hard to see the Wolfpack making a game of it, but one can hope. Really not a lot of interesting games this week.

On the beleaguered NFL side, there are a few games worth watching. Starting, of course with the best rivalry in the history of pro football, Packers and Bears. It is at Soldier Field, so I am not sure why the Cheese is a one point favorite. The Pack is playing like crap so far this year, no running game and an unusually ineffective passing attack. I’ll take the Bears here. Can the Lions stay on their early season roll and beat the Jets Jets Jets? Yes, they can. Eagles at Niners is really interesting. Eagles are rolling, and San Fran is reeling. Oh, and Jim Harbaugh really is a giant flaming detestable asshole. So, I will be rooting for the Iggles, plus they are more fun to watch. Patriots have been horrible so far, especially on offense. Still hard to see them not beating the Chefs to go to 3-1 despite how bad they have been. KC is still hung over from the Royals making the playoffs.

On a sad note, this blog has lost another of our old friends dating back to when we started. She has been absent for about two years now, but Skdadl was a great and wonderful presence in our comment threads for a very long time. Now she is gone. The full obituary for Susan Kent Davidson is here, and she had a full life. RIP Susan.

On that melancholy note, I leave you to chat it up.

How Long Until ESPN Brand Is Damaged By Money Trumping Safety?

ESPN stands perilously close to damaging its brand with repeated recent moves that appear to place their income stream ahead of safety. After working closely with Frontline for well over a year on a project documenting the effects of concussion injuries in football and especially in the NFL, ESPN on Friday removed their name from the effort, only a few weeks before the documentary was slated to air. Today, Kevin Brockway is out with an article in the Gainesville Sun noting the frequency with which the University of Florida has been forced to schedule early season home football games during early afternoon hours when heat indices are at dangerous levels for both athletes and spectators.

The New York Times noted yesterday that ESPN wields overwhelming power when it comes to setting the times for college football games to start, in some cases not announcing kickoff times until only six days before the game. Brockway’s article in the Sun shows the impact of ESPN’s decision-making here in Gainesville:

When the Southeastern Conference unveiled its week one 2013 football season start times, the collective groan from Gator Nation was heard from Key West to Pensacola.

For the fourth time in the last six years, Florida was stuck with an afternoon kickoff for its season opener. This Saturday’s 12:21 p.m. start time against Toledo at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium will force fans to again stock up on sunblock and bottled water.

But we aren’t talking about a mere inconvenience with the starting time. Figures on fans treated for heat-related illness in previous years speak to the danger of kickoffs at this hour in August and September:

The burning question is why? Why would the SEC schedule an early-afternoon game for its southernmost member during a month when the average heat index (which measures heat and humidity) is at its highest point of the year?

The answer lies in television, and some factors beyond the SEC’s control. Nonetheless, Florida administrators aren’t happy about the prospect of another sweltering Saturday opener. They consider it a fan safety issue. In 2011, when Florida began the season against Florida Atlantic (7 p.m. kickoff), only six fans were treated by medical staff for heat-related problems. Last season, when Florida opened against Bowling Green (3:30 p.m.), 105 fans were treated for heat-related issues.

A 12:21 kickoff is likely to be even worse than a 3:30 kickoff if rain showers don’t intervene, as the stands on the west side of the stadium usually are in the shade by 3:30 but not at 12:30, while shade doesn’t hit the seats on the east side until early evening.

As for the concussion documentary, here is how the Times described ESPN dropping out of particpation:

On Thursday, ESPN, which has spent heavily in recent years to build its investigative reporting team, abruptly ended its affiliation with “Frontline,” a public affairs television series that was weeks from showing a jointly produced two-part investigative project about the N.F.L.’s contentious handling of head injuries. The divorce came a week after the N.F.L. voiced its displeasure with the documentary at a lunch between league and ESPN executives, according to two people with direct knowledge of the situation.

As might be expected, there are now denials from the NFL that they exerted pressure and from ESPN that they bowed to pressure. Those denials do nothing to improve the optics of the situation, however, and it remains indisputable that ESPN withdrew its support just before the documentary slamming the NFL’s handling of concussions aired.

ESPN is in very dangerous territory right now. If Saturday proves to be especially hard on fans at early afternoon games in the South, the record is already clear on whom to blame for shifting games from their traditional evening kickoffs to the worst possible time for fan and player safety.

Reggie Walton Unleashes the Rocket’s Red Glare

graphic by mopupduty.com

.

Well well well. who couldda knowd?? Acute prosecutorial foul play has ended the big Roger Clemens perjury trial at it’s gestation. From ESPN:

The judge presiding over Roger Clemens’ perjury trial declared a mistrial over inadmissible evidence shown to jurors.

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton said Clemens could not be assured a fair trial after prosecutors showed jurors evidence against his orders in the second day of testimony.

He will hear a motion on whether a new trial would be considered double jeopardy.

Whooo boy, Judge Walton must have been a little upset. Why yes, yes, he was:

.

“I don’t see how I un-ring the bell,” he said

Walton interrupted the prosecution’s playing of a video from Clemens’ 2008 testimony before Congress and had the jury removed from the courtroom. Clemens is accused of lying during that testimony when he said he never used performance-enhancing drugs during his 24-season career in the major leagues.

One of the chief pieces of evidence against Clemens is testimony from his former teammate and close friend, Andy Pettitte, who says Clemens told him in 1999 or 2000 that he used human growth hormone. Clemens has said that Pettitte misheard him. Pettitte also says he told his wife, Laura, about the conversation the same day it happened.

Prosecutors had wanted to call Laura Pettitte as a witness to back up her husband’s account, but Walton had said he wasn’t inclined to have her testify since she didn’t speak directly to Clemens.

Walton was angered that in the video prosecutors showed the jury, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., referred to Pettitte’s conversation with his wife.

“I think that a first-year law student would know that you can’t bolster the credibility of one witness with clearly inadmissible evidence,” Walton said.

Well, yes, Reggie Walton is exactly right. It was not only an inappropriate attempt at backdoor admission of what was, at the time, hearsay but, much, much, more importantly flew directly in the face of a direct and specific previous order of the court on this EXACT issue. You just do not do that, and if you do you cannot whine when the court spanks your ass. You got said ass whuppin the old fashioned way, you earned it.

So, now the germane question is where do we go from here; i.e. what about a new trial. Well, that depends on a fair amount of pretty complicated things that are not going to be self evident to those not more than intimately experienced in the nuances of technical trial law are going to understand. I will get into that in detail, and discuss the legal implications and situation, when the pleadings are filed. Judge Walton has scheduled a Sept. 2 hearing on whether to hold a new trial, or dismiss the case permanently due to double jeopardy. clemens’ defense team will have until July 29 to file the motion to dismiss with prejudice and the prosecution has until Aug. 2 to respond.

A lot of judges would have tried to paper over this bogosity by the prosecution. Reggie Walton is PISSED. He may well say they are done based on double jeopardy. Those are gonna be fun briefs, and a very interesting oral argument.

One further thing, despite the incredibly short tenure of this jury trial – literally really in the first day of evidentiary presentation – today’s antics were NOT the first instance of prosecutorial misconduct. Oh no, the government was acting maliciously and unethically from the get go in the opening statements.

[Judge Walton] said it was the second time that prosecutors had gone against his orders — the other being an incident that happened during opening arguments Wednesday when assistant U.S. attorney Steven Durham said that Pettite and two other of Clemens’ New York teammates, Chuck Knoblauch and Mike Stanton, had used human growth hormone.

Walton said in pre-trial hearings that such testimony could lead jurors to consider Clemens guilty by association. Clemens’ defense attorney objected when Durham made the statement and Walton told jurors to disregard Durham’s comments about other players.

Yes, boy howdy, that is precisely right.

I think that the Laura Pettite bit, coupled with the improper attempt at prohibited guilt by association in the openings makes a fast pattern to malicious prosecution. If Reggie wants, he can dismiss and ground it upon both mistrial and sanction for malicious.

I’ve been telling people for years that it was NOT just former IRS goon come FDA stoolie agent Jeff Novitsky (although it all starts with him) that was malfeasant in the BALCO cases, including the Mitchell report kerfuffle, it was the AUSAs too.

This mendaciousness is just bogus and deplorable. Congratulations to Judge Reggie Walton for fingering it for what it is. Now dismiss this bunk forever please.